Like most football coaches, Ryan Carty has a collection of slogans and phrases designed to inspire his players. And taking over University of Delaware’s program last winter, Carty is certain to be providing players with a variety of motivational messages. It’s part of the gig.
But it’s also largely meaningless without follow-through. A program’s core values and beliefs look good on T-shirts and social media posts, but they don’t win games.
“You have to bring them to life,” he says.
Carty saw how that can happen when he played at UD in the early 2000s. He was part of the 2003 team that won the national championship. Later, as a coach at Sam Houston State, he helped the Bearkats win the 2021 pandemic-induced spring national title. Carty understands that winning big is not about catchphrases and mantras. It’s about players working for the collective, rather than the individual. And there is another common denominator on those two teams.
“The players loved each other,” Carty says.
Carty certainly loves Delaware. The opportunity to become a head coach is great for any assistant. To do it at one’s alma mater is extremely enticing. When UD athletic director Chrissi Rawak interviewed Carty in Houston, a meeting that lasted seven hours but “felt like one,” she says, his affection for the institution was “palpable.”
“You feel it,” Rawak says.
A lot of people love the schools from which they graduated, but that doesn’t mean they will be good coaches. And UD expects Carty to be good. Very good. His pedigree as an assistant is outstanding. Not only did he spend four seasons at Sam Houston but he was also an assistant at New Hampshire for 11 years, a CAA rival. It was there that he developed his reputation as a bright offensive mind, and his teams put up plenty of points and yards. In 2020, he was named the FCS coordinator of the year for his work with the potent SHSU attack.
Carty’s offenses play fast when they have the ball, but he wants a team that is fast in every way. “When I say ‘play fast,’ I want it to be program-wide,” he says. “I want fast players who practice fast, think fast and play fast.” That’s Carty’s way, and it’s baked into his personality. He isn’t frivolous or careless. He assembles a plan and then executes it in ways that make opponents uncomfortable.
Carty’s mandate is to take the Fighting Blue Hens from good to great, the hardest thing to do for a coach. The team hasn’t been awful, so this is not a teardown, but UD hasn’t won more than seven games in a season since 2010, when Keeler took the team to the national title game. Carty believes he can change that with an attitude that isn’t necessarily revolutionary but one that has proven successful for many teams.
“What we believe in is a foundation of toughness and aggressive play,” he says. “We are going to take the fight to people.”
That would look great on a T-shirt—and even better on the field.
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